The following declaration from Chile, signed by Left Voice’s Trotskyist Fraction co-thinkers, references a number of things that may be unfamiliar to English-language readers. The Chile of “transition” refers to the 30-year post-dictatorship process that has entrenched bourgeois institutions left over from the Pinochet era. In October 2019, a revolt rocked the country, and in early December of that year, after “kitchen” meetings to strike an accord to which representatives from the streets were excluded, a number of Chilean political parties signed the Agreement for Social Peace and a New Constitution. This included the Frente Amplio (Broad Front), a reformist coalition of “left” parties (Gabriel Boric is the presidential candidate it supports); the UDI (Independent Democratic Union, a conservative political party); and the remnants of the former Concertación, a coalition of center-left political parties. It established a referendum for writing a new constitution; the referendum passed last October. The Constitutional Convention functions such that any constitutional initiatives must be approved by a two-thirds majority, thus ensuring veto power to the right-wing powers-that-be. Reform of the Chilean pension system has been among the main bourgeois provocations against the working class; the Administradoras de Fodos de Pensiones (AFPs) are private managers of pension portfolios that collect fees for their work. — Scott Cooper
Since October 18, 2019, the Chilean working class and the country’s masses, together with the youth, women, and the oppressed national minorities, have made clear that they want an end to the Chile of the last 30 years. With that uprising, through assemblies, and with millions mobilized in the streets and on the front lines, a process was opened that challenges the pillars of the dictatorship’s legacy.
To bring the revolt to a halt, the “Agreement for Peace” was signed by those from the ranks of the old regime, its parties, and parliamentarians, by the UDI, and by Boric’s Frente Amplio, aimed at saving the government of Sebastían Piñera and diverting the struggle into yet another “transition” that would allow them to restore governability — and so nothing would change.
Those on the Left who signed the pact, such as Frente Amplio, and those who ended up legitimizing it, such as the Communist Party (PC), would have us believe that it is possible to meet the demands of October 2019 within the institutional framework inherited from the Pinochet dictatorship. Such a path is not only irrelevant for our class, but new frustrations will await us.
Questioning the Chile of the past 30 years is not a closed issue. The struggle to free those imprisoned during the revolt, to put an end to the AFP, for salaries and pensions that surpass the minimum needed to live, to put an end to this virus that kills and sickens working people, and to build a system of quality and free public health and education, among other demands, is far from resolved. And with the pandemic, millions have seen our conditions worsen while the plundering by Big Business, the bankers, and the multinationals continues.
One month after the Constitutional Convention was installed, and despite the fact that neither the right wing nor the former Concertación obtained a third of the delegates, the Convention has respected the rules of the Peace Agreement and has ignored the urgent matters facing the masses. The Frente Amplio is the main guardian of a Convention subordinated to the existing powers, as demonstrated by its recent vote in favor of the two-thirds requirement, and together with the Socialist Party (PS) and the PC have ended up appeasing the old Pinochetism. They are not an alternative for the working class. Their program is based on higher taxes and indebtedness, without putting an end to the plundering of the big owners of the country, and they seek alliances with the old neoliberals of the PS, false friends of the people.
The List of the People, which offered itself as an alternative, has ended up respecting all the rules of the kitchen accords and the Peace Agreement. Many comrades who had expectations that the List would set out on a different path have now seen conciliation lead to a crisis, including all manner of allegations regarding machines and money — all the product of subordination to the old parliamentarism and abandoning the mobilization. The List tries to present itself as “independent,” but its program is not fundamentally different from Boric’s program of reforming the capitalist state rather than putting an end to this economic social system of exploitation and oppression.
The signatory organizations of this declaration have resolved to unite to form a new bloc for the upcoming elections that will fight for all the demands of October 2019. We denounce the subordination of the Convention to the established powers and demand that it break with the pact of November 15. We demand that amnesty be decreed for all political prisoners. We stand for fighting for NO+AFP, the right to health, housing and education, the right to abortion, and for the demands of the women’s movement and LGTBIQ+; for the right to vote for those over 14 years of age; for the return of lands to and the right to self-determination for the Mapuche people; for the nationalization of strategic resources under workers’ control as a way to address social demands; and other measures. In other words, we demand the Convention declare itself sovereign and that it discuss and take all measures without respecting any limitations imposed by the old powers as part of the pretense of the Peace Agreement.
We are a workers’ front that denounces the attacks of the businessmen and the traps of the old parties of the regime, as well as the conciliation of those who claim to represent the people but who end up aligned with the right wing and the old Concertación. We are a front that proposes to retake the road of struggle, mobilization, and independent self-organization of the working class and the people, with the perspective of the general strike, to bring an end to the Chile of the transition and instead fight for a government of the working class that breaks with capitalism and stands for socialism.
With this initiative, we fight for the following, which we present for the consideration of unions, territorial and popular assemblies, coordinating groups, committees, and grassroots movements, to re-open the path of mobilizing for our demands and for winning a government of the workers that breaks with capitalism:
1. Immediate freedom for prisoners of the revolt and the Mapuche people. Annulment of the anti-protest and anti-terrorist laws. Trial and punishment of Piñera and his government and the police implicated in the murders. Put those responsible for the genocides, along with their civilian accomplices, in common jails with long-term sentences. Abolish the police.
2. A minimum salary and pension of 600,000 pesos. No more AFP. A solidarity pension system administered by workers and retirees. Prohibition of dismissals and suspensions. No more precarious work. Work for all; distribution of working hours between the employed and unemployed, with no cut in wages. Annulment of anti-union laws. The right to genuine strikes. Collective bargaining by economic branches. For the triumph of all the struggles of the workers. No more conciliation with the government and employers by the bureaucracies, such as that of the CUT trade union confederation. For a plan of struggle to return to the path of the general strike.
3. A free, quality public health system that benefits working people. No more subsidies to private clinics and private health insurers. Public, free, secular, and non-gender-exclusive education at all levels, without subsidies to private schools or the church.
4. Decent housing for working families. For a national housing plan. Elimination of the value-added tax (VAT). Progressive taxes on large fortunes and extra taxes on the profits of big businessmen and bankers.
5. That every politician, civil servant, and judge be paid the same as a teacher. No more privileges for the political and judicial caste. The right to recall representatives who betray the popular mandate. The right of those over 14 years of age to vote and be elected. Popular election of judges, and trials by jury. Dissolution of the Constitutional Tribunal and the Supreme Court.
6. The immediate return and restitution of the lands usurped from the Mapuche people and nation. Expropriation of the lands of the forestry companies in the hands of the Matte and Angellini families and large conglomerates. The right to self-determination of the Mapuche people.
7. An end to plundering. Out with the copper multinationals. Nationalization of large mining without compensation and under a workers’ administration, together with the communities. Nationalization and statization of all companies privatized by the dictatorship, without compensation, with companies put under workers’ management and popular control.
8. An end to femicides, the murder of trans people, and other hate crimes. Nothing less. For the rights of working women. Equal pay for equal work. Free childcare and kindergartens in work and study places. Against all forms of oppression and discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual people, intersex people, and transgender people.
9. For the political independence of trade unions from the state and its governments. No to social dialogue with Big Business. Out with the union bureaucracy. For anti-bureaucratic and class-conscious leaderships. For the self-organization of the workers and the people in committees, coordinating groups, and assemblies.
10. Against the blockade and all imperialist aggression against Cuba. For an international policy of support to the workers’ and popular rebellion throughout the world. For the socialist unity of Latin America. Solidarity with the resistance of the Palestinian people against the racist, Zionist State of Israel.
11. Confront the environmental debacle that capitalism has provoked worldwide. In our country, recurring droughts, the destruction of ecosystems, the plantations of pine and eucalyptus forests, and the mining companies are all destroying the environment in which millions of people live. We fight for planning the use and consumption of natural resources in the service of the working class and the people. We support the struggles faced by communities besieged by large companies, beginning with their right to participate and decide whether to approve or disapprove of projects with environmental impact.
– Partido de Trabajadores Revolucionarios (Revolutionary Workers’ Party)
– Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (Socialist Workers Movement)
– Fuerza de Unidad y Lucha (Force for Unity and Struggle)
– Revista El Porteño – Unidad de Trabajadores (El Porteño Magazine – Workers’ Unity)
– Socialismo Revolucionario (Revolutionary Socialism)
First published in Spanish on August 19 in La Izquierda Diario Chile.
Translation by Scott Cooper